BMW just keeps lopping off cylinders from its engines and sliding the ever-more-diminutive mills into its models. This spring, Europeans will get some of the automaker's smallest yet thanks to a new entry-level 2 Series that will share a powerplant with the Mini Cooper. The Bavarian company will also introduce a few other tweaks to the compact coupe across the pond.
Fair warning for any classic car fans that suffer from high blood pressure: this story might not be good for your health. US Customs and Border Protection is teaming up with British law enforcement to keep unsafe, imported vehicles off the road here – like this Mini. In the government's view, the only way to make things right is to crush the cars, apparently.
Mini impressed us all when it revealed the Superleggera Vision concept at the Paris Motor Show a couple of months ago. But even before the little roadster concept debuted, there were already rumors of its production potential. And those rumors are only being further entrenched by the emergence of a series of patent renderings.
With its previous generation, Mini went for a maximalist strategy, expanding its lineup to include seven derivatives. But with the new generation, BMW's retro Anglo-Saxon brand is shifting gears to a "superhero strategy" focusing on core models with volume sales potential rather than small niches.
Whenever this writer thinks of fancy parking jobs, we go straight to Buddy Love singing Strokin' in a red Dodge Viper he slides into a tiny space in The Nutty Professor. But after watching the video above, we might have to start thinking about Han Yue, who broke the world record for getting into the tightest parallel parking space. The previous record was set in July 2013 by Alastair Moffatt, who had 3.4 inches to spare between his car and those around. Yue used a Mini Cooper at the China Drift
See that red thing? It's the Mini Citysurfer Concept. It is not, in case you were wondering, an automobile. Yet despite this apparent shortcoming, Mini has placed it on a plinth at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Mini gave us our first taste of its next-generation John Cooper Works Hardtop in concept form at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. And in fact, we already know that the production version will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit show in January. Fitting, then, that this most recent round of spy shots shows a JCW that's pretty much ready to roll – peel back that yellow swirly paper, and you've pretty much got the final deal.
Things aren't looking good for Mini this year. The diminutive BMW brand has shown falling sales every month in 2014 in our By the Numbers wrap-ups. If that weren't bad enough, the latest Cooper Hardtop suffered fuel economy issues upon arriving to the US. First, there was a delay getting some versions certified, and then several models had to have their miles-per-gallon ratings revised.
After the huge problems that Hyundai/Kia experienced with its mislabeled fuel economy labels, you'd think that any time an automaker has to adjust its mpg numbers, heralds would be shouting from the rooftops. But, after Ford admitted to three big mistakes with its numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz had to lower the fuel economy rating for the C-Class, we understand if those heralds are a bit tired by now.
The Mini brand and its products have typically been a runaway success for BMW, but sales of the retro hatchback dropped a drastic 20.5 percent last month, and have been doing such pretty much all year.
Mini's Superleggera Vision Concept may not be a Paris Motor Show debut, but this is the first time we've seen this stunning all-electric roadster in the metal, having been first shown on the tony shores of Lake Como at Villa D'Este in May. While it's small in stature, it's still big on both presence and detail, from its overall stubby yet sleek proportions to its Union Jack taillamps, Jaguar-esque rear fin and elegant rearview mirrors.
We've seen it in super high-res glory, and we can even build one on the automaker's website, but the Paris Motor Show marks the official coming out party for the new Mini Hardtop 4 Door (which is what it's called in the US, despite this Euro car having "5 Door" badging). It's a stretched version of the third-generation Mini Hardtop, but with an extra set of doors for rear seat passengers. Think of it as a more useful Clubman, but with a lower ride height and less rugged-ness than the Countryman.
Mini just doesn't want its Rocketman concept to die. It unveiled the truly mini model at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and since then, there have been countless on-again, off-again rumors about the possibility of it going into production. If the latest talk proves true, a smaller vehicle like the Rocketman might make it into the automaker's lineup after all, as competitor to other stylish city cars like the Smart ForTwo.
The Mini Cooper five-door hatchback, which the company insists on calling the Mini Hardtop 4 Door, doesn't start arriving at US dealers until January 2015. However, if you dig the latest model's styling but can't live without the two extra doors, you can start speccing one right now in the recently launched configurator.
It sold over five million units. It was voted the second most influential car of the last century, bested only by the pioneering Ford Model T. It counted among its owners Steve McQueen, Enzo Ferrari and Peter Sellers. It is the classic Mini.
With the latest generation of Minis having only recently launched a few months ago, the company's Plant Oxford has found another reason to celebrate as it reached two major milestones almost simultaneously. Since production of the new, BMW-revived version began there in 2001, the factory has produced 3 million of the retro-looking models and 2 million vehicles exported outside of the UK. Just four years ago, it was celebrating building 1.5 million of them.
Mini is continuing to update its models onto its latest UKL front-wheel-drive platform that it shares with parent BMW. Here, our spies caught an early glimpse of the next-gen Countryman testing on the new chassis.